Since I began writing this series on Peace Education my thinking has developed. Initially I thought Peace Education was the solution to remedy the shortcomings of the present education system, that it was an integral piece of the puzzle to make the world a better place.
I still believe Peace Education plays an important role in future learning, but I now understand that education of the future will be required to take a broader look on life and adopt a deep ecological perspective if it is to support the human transition between paradigms which is presently underway and has been for the last thirty years.
Most politicians and governments currently have a shallow ecological perception and mindset, meaning policy and action is based upon reacting to short range effects of the problems and challenges we face. In education this can be seen through the government’s insistence of ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’, insisting on higher standards, academic rigour, raising the bar for achievement and demanding excellent evidence based practice from staff. Which, on the one hand, from a shallow perspective, makes sense. But such a process is dehumanising, stressful and rigid. It overlooks the broad human potential of every individual and isn’t interested in nurturing the health and wellbeing of those in the system, how can it when it insists on pressure and stress, accountability and judgment based on outcomes?
A deeper ecological approach concentrates on what is going on in the total ecosystem. It aims to get to the root of the problem by inspecting the issue thoroughly, addressing the reasons for its cause. The deeper ecological approach is prepared to question every single aspect of the old paradigm. Through the deep ecological lens we begin to question our values, perceptions and shared practices, which shape our behaviour and contribute towards the status quo.
Our present paradigm is industrial and can be defined by the mechanistic metaphor. The identity we have embraced in this paradigm is that of the consumer and the affect has been one of anxiety – caused by the precarious nature of our times. The carbon footprint caused by consumerism upon Earth has been defined as the anthropocene – ‘the age of man’. If we continue to perceive the world as we do and hold onto our conservative and self-interested values, driven by competition, then humanity, through its own hubris, will decimate life upon Earth and we will wipe ourselves out in the process.
We need to evolve. Human evolution can be defined as changing behaviour. Our behaviour only changes if our values, our perceptions and our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with others and our environments’ shift. It is educations role to raise the awareness of the individual’s place in relation to society and beyond.
We can see then, that the model of Peace Education is valid because it considers the holistic, systems approach towards education and recognises the connections between the individual, community and environment. Informed by a deeper ecological perspective, education for the future can work to meet the needs of our time by identifying the root causes of the challenges we face and design educational environments, experiences and content based upon the needs we have.
The new paradigm will be defined by non-linear thinking and the metaphor of the network or web. The identity embraced will be of the (active global) citizen. The affect will be inner peace. The post-anthropocene could be known as the Ezoic-Era – ‘a period when humans would dwell upon Earth in a mutually enhancing manner’. In order for humanity to transition into a paradigm of new sustainability “marked by an ‘alternative globalization’ guided by new values of human solidarity and a rethinking of the nature of human be-ing and well-being”, education will be required to support the divorce of our mechanistic thinking and open our eyes to seeing the world differently. From our new perspective the world will be unrecognisable to our socialised understanding of how we presently think it is and should be.